Daddy led Evan in the sinner’s prayer today. He’s understanding sin and the outcome of sin, and the sacrifice and redemption by Jesus. And he is ready to ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins and to come into his life.
Over the last few months he’s been asking about hell and why Jesus let the soldiers crucify Him and why He has scars in his hands. And we’ve been explaining God’s redemption to him.
I think it is very important for Christian parents to explain God’s salvation to the children and to pray with them, not just thanksgiving or petition prayers, but to ask Jesus into their lives. Teaching in children’s church, I give a salvation call every few months. And every time, there have been children who wanted to ask Jesus into their lives and to save them. I think we must not take for granted that our children have prayed that. We need to teach them to pray, because prayer is our weapon for warfare. And it starts with surrendering our lives to Jesus. And we need to lead and guide them into that prayer to give their lives to Jesus.
Even in my class of 11 and 12 year olds, there are some who have been in church almost their whole lives and have never asked Jesus into their lives. Just because no one has asked them if they wanted to. I first saw the gospel presentation when I was 6, and I totally understood and believed that Jesus did that for me; He went through the pain and suffering, and went to the cross for me. But it wasn’t till I was 11 that someone led me in the sinner’s prayer, even though I’d been attending children’s church for a while already. It’s no one’s fault. We just have to remember to ask the children if they have said the sinner’s prayer and not take for granted that they have.
Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. He also said for us to come to Him like little children. So they are not too young to come to the Saviour and enter into a relationship with Him. We all need the Saviour.
Last Friday, I went on my second trip to Surabaya, Indonesia. The first time I went was in December of 2010 with a Couriers mission team from church. I’ve always wanted to go back again and got to do so this month, as a birthday present from the best husband in the world!
This time I went with just my sister. It was my first mission trip going with my sister! After all these years. It’s both our dreams to work with children and run homes to save orphans and unwanted or abused children. So it was a great opportunity to visit the ministry of Pondok Hayat in Surabaya.
Also, our church had sent out a volunteer to Surabaya and she’s in her third month there. I wanted to visit her and spend time with her. Alicia is only 19 and wanted to give time to missions before she starts university. It was a great encouragement to see what a blessing she is to the ministry in Pondok Hayat. Also to beat her in Monopoly Deal. Heh.
The most unforgettable part of this trip, that also made it so different from others before, is that we stayed at a children’s home with 11 orphans. So often we go on trips, minister in the day and then go back to our hotel rooms or guest homes. We kind of distant ourselves to what is happening in the third world countries. But to actually stay with the children and be a part of their daily lives was life-changing. When we came home, it was hard to focus on our daily lives, knowing that somewhere, someone is needing love, not just love, but loving guidance and teaching. And we long to be with them.
My sister texted me as she was sitting in a morning meeting at work, Why are we discussing these things that really don’t matter in the long run? And I wrote on my facebook, as much as I’m glad to be home with my family, I also wish I was there with the children, making a difference in their lives simply by loving them and letting them know they are loved. If only I can ‘commute’ there to work! I can live with that as my day job. 🙂 I know my kids would love to go with me too. I asked Evan what he will help me do there and he said, “I can help you cook, Mommy!” 🙂
These 11 children were unwanted by their mothers who got pregnant before they were married. No one in the organisation helping these unwed mothers know who the fathers are. But the shelter, Pondok Hayat (Hut of Life), gives these mothers hope, and these babies a future. It saved the babies from the clutches of death through abortion and gave them a chance to be born into this world. Many of the babies get adopted (thank God for the favour on the ministry), but many also get left behind. When they grow to be 4 years old, they move to Simo Children’s Home, which was where we stayed, with these precious dear ones.
Each of them is special. Each of them is full of life, full of love. On the first day, one of the founders of the ministry already told me, “Please discipline them.” My reply, “I’m only going to be here 4 days! I don’t want them to hate me!” But we all know that disciplining our children is part of loving them. And with their main caregiver going home for the weekend (she must have timed it for when we are there!), I had to hold up my role! I’m glad I didn’t have to do much in terms of correction, just certain things they picked up from school that I had to explain to them are rude or not good. I spent more time hugging, kissing, praying for them, and playing with them.
We played soccer, went on swings, and did cartwheels. Yes, cartwheels. The boys are crazy over a current TV show called Madun, which is about a boy soccer genius. The stunts in the show are obviously fake, but the boys aspired to be able to perform them nonetheless. “Miss, can you do this and kick the ball?” What? Cartwheel AND kick the ball? “No I can’t. I’m too old!” “Miss, I know, you cannot do it because you are a girl.” What?! Trying to provoke me? Not going to work. I’m too old boys. But I can do a cartwheel. Here we go! And they’re only a little impressed… and went on to try their Madun moves. Staying with the children was also a good opportunity to practise my bahasa!
“Miss! Look!” “Miss! Tie my hair?” “Miss! Come!” “Miss!” All of them calling at the same time, while I was trying to get 2 girls to finish their food. By 8:30pm of the second night, I was beat! And after the kids were in bed, the caretakers had piles of folding and ironing to do! We offered to help, but our offer was turned down (not that we were that disappointed!).
Besides spending time with the children at Simo, we also had bible study with the mothers, spoke at a youth outreach meeting (they hold a weekly meeting for the teens in a poor community), helped develop an English curriculum for the pre-schools and elementary school, had a teacher fellowship/sharing, and played with the babies at Pondok Hayat. And these are what the staff and volunteers do everyday and every week. They have such an extensive and fruitful ministry. The schools are an outreach to the community too as they provide almost free education for a lot of children. By meeting the physical needs of the community, the hearts of the people are very much more open to the gospel and the people more willing to listen to the Christians share.
This is what I think we need to do. The church needs to rise up and let our light shine. We need to put the love we have from God in action and bring that love to the community. James 1:27 says, “True and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
(To read more about Pondok Hayat, you can visit their website at www.pondokhayat.org. But you’ll need Google translate coz it’s in bahasa. 🙂 Waiting for my sis to post more pictures of the kids on her facebook since we took most of the pictures on her camera!)
Sometimes we get so busy we forget about the things that really matter. Today as I took some time to be alone to finish some work, I listened to some of my favourite songs about what really matters – Jesus.
As I was listening to this one song, “Why” by Nicole Nordeman, it reminded me of the centrality of the cross. Why? The reason for the cross.
Those of us who have watched The Passion, a film by Mel Gibson, we would have seen a stark portrayal of the physical pain, torture and anguish that Jesus went through on the road to the cross. The whip wasn’t just a simple whip, it had metal and sharp bits at the end so that when you are whipped, the end tears into your skin and flesh and rips it from your body in agonizing pain. We cringe when we think about that. But that was the reality of the pain that Jesus endured. Why? The reason for the cross.
“He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so that we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” Isaiah 53:5.
Jesus died so that we may live.
It was the only way to eternal life. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. Being God incarnate, He was perfect and without sin. He was the High Priest who pleaded for us before the Father. He was the sacrificial Lamb that was slain.
Jesus endured the whipping so that by His stripes, we can be healed.
When He went through the whipping and the crucifixion, He felt every pain in every muscle because He was human in His body just as we are, though without sin. There was no shortcut for this. He had to go through with it. For our sakes.
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42.
“…Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame..” Hebrews 12:2.
It was for us that He endured the cross. He saw each and every one of us, and thought, for His creation whom He so longs to be reconciled with, it is worth it. We are why He must die…
“My precious son
I hear them screaming
I’m watching the face of the enemy beaming
But soon I will clothe you in robes of my own
Jesus this hurts me much more then you know
But this dark hour
I must do nothing
Though I’ve heard your unbearable cries
The power in your blood
Destroys all of the lies
Soon you’ll see past their unmerciful lies
Look there below
See the child
Trembling by her father’s side
Now I can tell you why
She is why you must die”
So when we sin wilfully, we are trampling the blood of Jesus, taking it lightly, almost as if we are causing Him to go through the pain of the cross again. It breaks my heart to think of that. Yet I sin, and bring Him pain. But it is in His power to forgive and deliver us from sin, so that we are no longer slaves to sin. It is like when Jesus forgave the woman who was caught in adultery, He didn’t condemn her, and told her to “Go, and sin no more.”
I have been reading the gospels and am amazed at the character of Jesus. Such power, yet such meekness. Such righteousness and justness, yet such mercy and forgiveness. Where man chose to condemn, He chose to forgive. Where man chose to kill, He chose to give life. Where man chose to do evil, He could only do what is right.
Yesterday was not a good day to make cinnamon buns. How many things can go wrong when you are trying to make cinnamon buns?! For me, quite a lot.
Disaster #1 – Put in half a cup of sugar instead of a quarter cup. Ended up trying to remove some of the sugar from the mixture of flour, salt and yeast…
Disaster #2 – Put in half a cup of water instead of a quarter cup. Using the same measuring cup! How did I just not remember that I was using the half cup to measure instead of the quarter cup? Reason #1: I’m used to using the quarter cup to measure things. Reason #2: I just lost my mind. Not in the baking mode yesterday… I couldn’t fix this as there was no way to remove the water!
DIsaster #3 – Ran out of flour! Already I needed to add more flour than usual because I added too much water. Running out of flour was not good. I had to quickly get flour so I can salvage the dough before it’s too late! Good thing there was flour at the provision store on the ground floor…
Disaster #4 – Zapped the butter for the cinnamon spread too long. It was supposed to be softened butter, not melted… Put it back in the freezer for a minute to harden a litle.
Disaster #5 – Now the buns are baked and I was going to drizzle some glaze over them. Ran out of icing sugar!!! Could only drizzle a little glaze over each bun. I guess that should be ok considering I put in too much sugar in the buns in the first place!
I guess yesterday was just not a good day to make cinnamon buns… Or maybe it was just lack of planning ahead! Hence the depleting of various ingredients. I had wanted to make oatmeal raisin cookies. But I didn’t have chocolate chips at home. I guess if I had thought of baking earlier in the week, I could have gotten everything I needed when we went grocery shopping on Monday! Then again, I may not have gotten what I needed since I don’t always keep track of what we have run out of at home! Shopping list shopping list, I need to keep up with updating the shopping list everytime we run out of something!
Here is the picture of the final product. It did turn out ok in the end… except for the shape, had some trouble getting them in good shape! 🙂
Last week, Caleb had a camp-in with Daddy. Evan and I were part of the ‘festivities’, but only Caleb slept in the ‘tent’ with Daddy – in the study.
We started the evening with pizza for dinner, then went on a ‘bear hunt’, which became an African Animals hunt, then an Angry Bird hunt. It was great fun as we went around the house. The boys were excited even though we were in the comfort of our own home.
Then I went to set up the ‘campsite’. I lay the mattress of the sofa bed on the floor and put a sheet over it, hanging over 4 chairs, so that it can be a ‘tent’. Earlier on in the day, Caleb and I had come up with the idea for the ‘campfire’. We used a yellow envelope and put holes in it, then put it over an inverted flashlight. It turned out to be a great fire! Caleb’s Toy Story tent that he got for his birthday was also put up, just so that there is a real tent.
We then took the fire out (conveniently) into the living room and had a little campfire! We sang songs, told stories and ate candy. It was fun. We would come up with 3 things that has to go in the story and take turns to make up stories.
After that I brought Evan into our room and we watched some Madagascar videos on youtube before he went to bed. Caleb was initiated into the Star Wars series last night! We watched part of Episode 1 and the little guy got sleepy. Daddy had asked him if he wanted to go bed earlier but he insisted on staying up till our bedtime. “Isn’t your bedtime 12 o’clock?” We told him No, it was earlier. I’m sure he was glad it was. 🙂
The next few days, Evan would ask everyday if we could have a campfire again. It must have really made an impression on him. 🙂
5 is the number of grace. We have much to thank God for. His grace abounds in our lives and in Caleb’s.
We thank God for the gift He has given us in Caleb.
We thank God for Caleb’s zeal for life and in everything he does.
We thank God for Caleb’s infectious joy and laughter and the joy he brings to so many others.
We thank God for Caleb’s sensitive nature. He is quick to pick up on how others are feeling and it breaks his little heart to see someone sad. He prays for those who are sick or down and empathises with how they are feeling. Even his teacher in school commented that he is a sensitive kid, sensitive to the needs and feelings of others around him. He even puts others’ needs and wants before his… most of the time. 🙂
We thank God for Caleb’s obedience, respect for authority and desire to do what’s right.
We thank God for Caleb’s intelligence and his earnest desire to learn and learn more.
We thank God for Caleb’s ability to read so well at his age.
We thank God for Caleb’s creativity as can be seen in his making up stories, play time and art work.
We thank God for Caleb’s musicality. He writes songs, sings and plays any instrument he can get his hands on. Or else he would just make do with tables, chopsticks, toy boxes etc for makeshift drums.
We thank God that Caleb loves his little brother and is a good big brother.
Most of all, we thank God for saving Caleb and being his personal Saviour. We thank God that Caleb has known Him from a young age and knows how to call on Him for help and comfort, also to be thankful for what he has. We thank God that Caleb likes to pray, and read the bible, and now, to memorise his scripture verses.
It seems like we have a perfect child. No, no child is perfect, no man is perfect. But this gift that we have from God, is a perfect gift. And we have much to be thankful for today.